J.S. Giguere helps Maple Leafs win their first home opener since 2000 against Canadiens

Note: We probably won’t recap regular season games individually very often, but this is Hockey Christmas so I thought I’d touch on the two early games separately. Expect a recap post for the 10:00 PM ET games tomorrow morning, though.

gigueregame1.jpgWhile a lot of the pressure is on Carey Price in Montreal, the 2010-11 season is a huge one for a nearly forgotten goalie by the name of J.S. Giguere. Things have been rocky for the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner ever since he raised the silver chalice, but if he ever needed motivation to rekindle his old magic, how about a contract year?

So far, so good, as Jiggy’s strong goatending powered the Maple Leafs to their first win in a home opener since 2000.

Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Montreal Canadiens 2

Carey Price struggled a bit to begin the game, at least on paper, allowing two in the first period. (I say he struggled because any goals that go in will be over-analyzed in hockey crazed Montreal.) Giguere did indeed top him, though, stopping 25 of 27 shots, including a late flurry from the Habs in the third period.

Tim Brent, Phil Kessel and Altanta arbitration reject Clarke MacArthur scored Toronto’s three goals while Dustin Boyd and Jeff Halpern scored for the Canadiens.

Here are some interesting points from the Associated Press recap.

It was a typically tight game between the longtime rivals, who needed overtime to decide five of six meetings last season. That included the opener, in which Montreal tied it late before pulling out a 4-3 win in extra time.

Only six Leafs players who played in that game were on the ice for this one – a sign of the massive overhaul general manager Brian Burke constructed over the last year.

MacArthur, one of the new faces, scored the eventual winner. He made a nice play to beat defenseman Jaroslav Spacek before putting a nice backhander behind Carey Price at 1:36 of the third period.

Hopefully people aren’t too high in Toronto or too low in Montreal, but don’t be surprised. It’s the nature of these puck-obsessed markets, after all.

Slepyshev earns final Oilers roster spot; Draisaitl to AHL

Anton Slepyshev, Anton Lander
Leave a comment

The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.

The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.

The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.

But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.

“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”

Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.

Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado

Jared McCann, Connor McDavid, Ben Hutton

A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.

The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)

It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.

Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.

Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.